Beyond the Field: The Immersive Experience of VR and AR in Sports

Beyond the Field: The Immersive Experience of VR and AR in Sports

Image by szfphy from Pixabay


Understanding VR/AR and the Physical Environment Benefits

AR and VR technologies offer immersive experiences in real-time through various devices. AR overlays digital imagery onto the physical environment and objects, which can be seen through devices like smartphones or smart glasses. On the other hand, VR allows users to interact with virtual objects in completely fabricated environments using headsets, controllers, and wearable devices. As a result, VR could play a significant role in the fitness industry.

The global online/virtual fitness market was valued at $16.4 billion in 2022 according to Grand View Research, and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.72% from 2023 to 2030. This growth is primarily driven by the shift in consumer behaviour from in-person gym workouts to online fitness solutions. During the pandemic, people started exercising outdoors or in their own living rooms and backyards with the help of online videos, live streams, and mobile fitness apps, we all remember waking up to the nation’s PE teacher, Joe Wicks, right? Even after the reopening of gyms, many individuals chose to continue working out at home due to the safety and convenience it offers.

Benefits of VR and AR in Endurance Sports

Technology is rapidly advancing in the fields of virtual reality (VR) and sensors, which allow us to gather information from our bodies and the environment we interact with. By combining these two technologies, we have the ability to create personalised and interactive immersive environments.

These environments can be utilised for various purposes, such as training in high-risk situations (e.g., fires, crashes) improving skills with fewer distractions compared to natural environments and even increasing in enjoyment and effectiveness of certain exercises.

The VR system captures the athlete’s movements using multiple sensors on the ergo-meter and displays them in the virtual reality setting. Additionally, sensor data and physiological measurements derive the athlete’s technique metrics. This study aims to investigate the potential of VR in enhancing the technical skills of endurance athletes in various complex sports. Moreover, athletes can provide subjective feedback on their experience, comparing a standard workout with a workout using VR. Initial results when using this approach have indicated improved performance and a more engaging experience for the athletes.

Injury Prevention

AR/VR technology has the potential to contribute to injury prevention and rehabilitation in the field of endurance sports. By utilising AR/VR, athletes can visually assess their movements and recognise possible risks of injury. Additionally, AR/VR can simulate rehabilitation exercises, enabling athletes to expedite and enhance their recovery after sustaining injuries.

For example, for cyclists, AR/VR can replicate races to prevent leg injuries. Athletes can observe and assess their movements in real-time, identifying areas that require improvement. Moreover, AR/VR can simulate rehabilitation exercises to facilitate a faster and more efficient recovery for athletes who have suffered injuries. For example, in basketball, AR/VR can replicate jumping and landing drills, aiding in the prevention of knee injuries. Players can instantly assess their actions and pinpoint aspects needing refinement. Additionally, these technologies can mimic rehab exercises, facilitating swifter and more efficient injury recovery for athletes.

Of course, AR/VR cannot replicate the conditions with 100% accuracy, therefore the role of AR/VR is limited as it is not the only factor that will ensure an athlete returns to peak fitness. Traditional methods, exercises and medical professionals should still be contacted in the case of injuries.

The Fan Experience

VR and AR have also been utilised to enhance the audience’s involvement in sporting events. Certain systems enable the audience to navigate through a stadium or other sports venue, assisting when selecting a ticket for an event. Additionally, virtual reality games centred around sports allow players to participate in the competition actively. A notable recent example is the LA Rams teaming up with AR company, Around, to allow fans at the 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium to access AR experiences such as graphic overlays and shared activations by pointing their smartphones at the field.

Gone are the days of needing a ticket to embrace the atmosphere and excitement of a live event, and the possibilities of VR/AR don’t start and finish with the event itself. The UK’s leading betting sites, for example, will give fans live opportunities to wager on their favourite athletes, which will further enhance the overall immersive experience of attending live events in a virtual world.

The Challenges & Limitations

The cost of implementing AR and VR in sports is a potential hurdle for their widespread adoption. The development and deployment of AR and VR experiences can be pricey, making it difficult for some teams and organisations to invest in these technologies.

Additionally, there are concerns about how AR and VR may affect the viewing experience. Some fans may prefer the traditional viewing experience without virtual graphics and information, finding them distracting. However, despite these challenges, the future of sports broadcasting is likely to incorporate more AR and VR technology. As these technologies advance and become more accessible, we can expect to see more teams and organisations utilising them to enhance the fan experience and improve team performance.

The use of AR and VR in sports has the power to revolutionise how we watch and engage with sports events, and it will be fascinating to witness their ongoing evolution in the years ahead.

VR & AR in The Future

Virtual and augmented reality has significantly advanced technology, providing numerous benefits to athletes and fans. Evidently, these technologies are the future, and their growth is already underway. The progress of virtual and augmented reality technology is continuous. Although the current capabilities are impressive, it is logical to anticipate even more remarkable experiences in the future.

Can you imagine what virtual and augmented reality will be like in a decade? Sports have been elevated to new heights thus far, and this trend will undoubtedly continue to evolve over time.


XR (Extended Reality) applications are experiencing significant growth, allowing the sports industry to embrace new and thrilling advancements in the form of virtual worlds. As the sports industry increasingly integrates XR technologies, teams and athletes will continuously have access to many avenues for enhancing their skills. At the same time, spectators will discover fresh routes for enjoying the sports they love.